TopVeg – growing veg,fruit&herbs

April 18, 2011

Potato Cyst Nematodes reduced with Caliente Mustard

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 5:37 pm

Caliente mustard reduces root invasion from potato cyst nematodes.

The mustard should be sown, on the ground which is going to grow the potatoes, in the early autumn before the potatoes are to be planted.  The mustard is chopped up and incorporated into the soil in the spring, before potato planting.

Caliente mustard releases a gas called isothiocyanate  when it is chopped or crushed in damp conditions.  This gas acts as a biofumigantin the soil, and reduces the actions of  potato cyst eelworm.

August 2, 2010

Hoverflies control blackfly on runner beans

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , , , , , — TopVeg @ 8:42 pm

Our runner beans are surrounded by hoverflies, and their larvae will eat & so control the blackfly on the runner beans.



The hoverflies mimick wasps by having the same colouring, so they are left alone and avoided by other animals!

The following photo shows a hoverfly on a runner bean flower – it is on the top left of the photo. 



 Unfortunately it is much easier to see the blackflyon the runner bean plants!

There is always a time lag whilst the  controlling insects build up their numbers, & the pest increases.  Hopefully the hoverflies will soon have the blackfly on the runner beans under control!

July 30, 2010

Trap crops

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 8:22 am

A trap crop is a plant that attracts  pests, usually insects, away from the fruit or vegetables which are growing nearby.  Trap cropping is a type of companion planting and another form of organic or biological control.

Examples of trap crops

  • Sweet alyssum is a good trap crop for the European tarnished plant bug that attacks strawberries. 


  • Nasturtiums trap aphids (blackfly, greenfly, whitefly) when planted between rows of cabbages.


  • Chervil protects all vegetables from slugs when planted in amongst them.
  • French Marigold protect vegetables from nematodes.


  • Radish can be used as a sacrificial crop to attract flea beetle and root fly away from cabbages.

The trap crop is planted either:

  • around the circumference of the fruit & vegetables to be protected
  • or interspersed among the fruit & veg

Trap crop is generally destroyed before the pests’ lifecycle finishes so that it does not spread onto the main crop.  When the trap crop is destroyed, the pest will go with it.  If you do not want to destroy the trap crop, the pest can be vacuumed up using a mini-vac like the ones used to valet cars.

Trap crops are an interesting way to control bugs in the vegetable garden and a way of protecting the environment, because they do not kill the pests’ predators.

June 22, 2009

Caliente Mustard

Filed under: Uncategorized, pea&beans — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 3:07 am

Caliente Mustard:

  • improves soil structure – as a green manure
  • suppresses soil disease and weeds – as a  biofumigant
green manure

green manure

Caliente Mustard produces a naturally occurring biofumigant gas (isothiocyanate (ITC)) when its plant cells are damaged (by crushing or chopping).

This gas suppresses a range of:

  • soil-borne diseases, including Verticillium wilt, Rhizoctonia spp., Pythium spp., Fusarium spp., and Sclerotinia spp.
  • nematodes (eelworms)
  • wireworms

To encourage the production of the biofumigant gas ITC:

  • chop the Caliente Mustard plants as finely as possible – the finer the chop the greater the effect.   Either, use a rotary mower,  a strimmer or garden shredder
  • incorporate the chopped mustard into soil immediately, simply digging in the whole crop, un-chopped, will not give the same effect.  Mix the shredded vegetation into the top 15cm (6in) of the soil either with a rotovator, or by digging in with a fork
  • seal the soil surface, at once, to keep the gases in, using polythene
  • the soil temperature should be warm, between 10-15°C (50 – 59°F)
  • autumn or late spring incorporations are the most effective

To grow Caliente mustard:

  • Sow spring to late summer – it will be ready 60 to 90 days after sowing
  • To cover areas of bare soil over winter, sow early October (no later than mid-October) & the crop will be ready for incorporation in early to mid spring
  • 200g of seed covers approx 120sq.m
  • 1kg covers approx 600sq.m
  • Caliente mustard is available from Tozer Seeds

March 15, 2009

Blackfly on Broad Beans

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 6:34 pm

Blackfly    -  Latin name: Aphis fabae (in the family of Aphididae)

Blackfly is a serious pest of broadbeans in the kitchen garden. A whole mass of shiny black insects cover the growing tips, flower buds and the underside of young leaves of the broad bean plant.

Keep a sharp look out for blackfly on spring-sown beans when they are in flower in June. One advantage of sowing broad beans in the autumn is that they tend to flower early, producing beans in May or June, before any blackfly appear.

Blackfly suck the sap from the broad bean plant causing stunted growth with curled, distorted leaves, and poor crop yields.

Discourage blackfly attack by pinching out the growing tips of the broad bean plants when they are in full flower. Some gardeners pinch out the tops when five flowers have formed, or when the first pods have set. Remember the pinched out tops may be cooked & eaten!

Blackfly control:

  • wash or spray with a mild soap solution
  • encourage their natural enemies – ladybirds, hoverfly larvae, lacewing larvae and parasitic wasps
  • Insecticides:

Contact insecticides work when they actually touch the blackfly. They have short persistence, so thorough treatment, especially of the underside of leaves, is necessary. Aphids protected by curled leaves are unlikely to be controlled.

Synthetic pesticides generally give a higher level of control. Always read the label for instructions on the use of the product and harvest intervals. The harvest interval is the period of time between spraying the crop and it being safe to eat.

February 24, 2009

Beneficial Bugs 101

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , , , — TopVeg @ 11:12 am
Beneficial Bugs 101


Your vegetable garden requires a great many things to be healthy and happy. The perfect soil, adequate sunlight, plenty of water and some beneficial bugs. Yes, that’s right. Those little critters can be very helpful to your garden and can keep the more destructive bugs out of the garden.

The really important thing here is to know which ones are the good ones and what plants you need in your garden to keep them around. Beneficial bugs are especially important for anyone who wants to keep their garden organic, as it will eliminate the need for pesticides.

Beneficial bugs include: assassin bugs, hover flies, lacewings, lady beetles, pirate bugs, wasps, tachinid flies, and dragonflies. These guys will keep away trouble makers such as aphids, stink bugs, mealybugs and hornworms by eating their larvae. Not bad, huh?

If you build it, they will come. That means you will need to have plants to which these bugs are attracted if you want them to make their way over to your garden. Pollen and nectar are big draws for beneficial bugs so you will want to be sure to have several plant varieties that produce it.

And, don’t assume you need to wipe out every bad bug you see in your garden. It would behoove you to show a bit of patience as these may attract a certain variety of beneficial bugs that will come along and take care of them so you will not need to worry. For example, aphids are very attractive to ladybugs and lacewings.

If you have aphids and wait a bit, they will be by in no time. Their larvae feed on the aphids, which works out quite well for you as the gardener. Mating generally takes place near an aphid source to ensure a plentiful food supply.

If you can not wait for the aphids to meet their end at the hands of the ladybugs, spray them with a fine mist of water to knock them off leaves so they can not do any damage. The troops will be in to take care of things in due time. They are clever little bugs and will know to look on the ground!


This post was contributed by Holly McCarthy, who writes on the subject of the  online certification programs.. She invites your feedback at hollymccarthy12 at gmail dot com

February 16, 2009

Grow organic brassicas

Filed under: brassicas — Tags: , , , , , — TopVeg @ 11:48 am

It is possible to grow brassicas (cabbage family) in the garden without
using sprays or other chemicals.

Sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflowers are damaged by:

    * aphids
    * white fly
    * cabbage
    * white caterpillars
    * and other insects.

There is a net, specially designed to keep insects out.  If this is
spread over the plants it has a dramatic effect.




Clean, chemical free, (& bug-free) veg can be proudly presented to the
kitchen, when you know how to grow organic brassicas!

May 25, 2007

Biological Aphid Control in the Vegetable Garden.

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 10:09 am


Aphids (such as greenfly and blackfly) appear on leafy vegetables at this time of year, and they need controlling.

As the aphids congregate on the growing tips of vegetable plants, beneficial insects will start to eat them, so that the aphids will gradually disappear after a few weeks. These beneficial insects include ladybirds, green lacewings and larvae of hover flies, which all feast on
the aphids.

Beneficial parasites (such as small wasps that don’t sting humans) don’t eat the aphids, they lay their eggs inside the adult aphid. The baby wasp develops inside the aphid and kill it off.

May 3, 2007

Flea Beetle

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 5:39 pm

Flea beetle can be a problem in the vegetable garden during May and
June. They attack members of the brassica family including radish.

Various genera and species of flea beetles cause problems in the
garden, all members of the Chrysomelidae family. One example is the
cabbage stem flea beetle (Psylliodes chrysocephala).

Plants affected

Cruciferous plants such as cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale,
turnip, swede, radish, salad rocket. Other plants, such as nasturtium
and stocks can also be attacked.


Small, rounded, irregular holes in cotyledons and leaves of seedlings.
In severe cases the leaves look as if they had been peppered with fine
shot.Seedlings are most vulnerable to flea-beetle when stressed,
particularly by dry, poor seedbeds where crop growth is slow.

Flea beetle life cycle

Flea beetles overwinter in leaf litter as adult beetles & emerge in
spring to attack the seedlings of brassicas and other host plants. They
are quite mobile and may fly a kilometre to find food. In late summer
there is sometimes a significant migration of adult beetles from oilseed
rape fields into gardens when damage to mature plants can occur.Female
beetles lay their eggs in the soil near suitable plants in May/June. The
larvae of the large striped flea beetle feed in ‘mines’ in leaves; the
larvae of other species feed on plant roots, but this does not usually
cause severe damage. These larvae pupate in the soil, new adults
hatching out in the autumn. Adults feed for a few weeks before
hibernating. These adults will survive until the following July or August.

Control of Flea Beetle

  • Provide ideal growing conditions: Prepare the soil well and
    choose appropriate sowing times to encourage rapid and vigorous
    growth of young plants, so that they grow away from the flea
    beetle. Keep the seed bed moist as damage is always worse in hot
    dry weather.
  • Grow a trap crop: A sacrificial row or two of radishes, which
    seem to be the flea beetle’s favourite, may help to protect other
    young brassicas from attack by diverting the beetle’s attention.
  • Cover the crop: Horticultural fleece or Enviromesh will keep
    flea beetles off if put in place immediately after sowing.
  • Tidy up: Clear the garden of all rubbish to reduce the number of
    overwintering sites. Weed control in and around the seedbed
    deprives larvae of food sources.
  • Use sticky traps – white and yellow sticky traps placed every 15
    to 30 feet of row will catch the beetles. Encircling the plot with
    continuous sticky tape is also used.
  • Chemical control – chemicals are sold in garden centers for flea
    beetle control. Always read the label.
  • Biological control – Microcotonus vittage Muesebeck, a native
    braconid wasp, kills the adult flea beetle and sterilizes the
    female flea beetle

March 3, 2007

Slug Control in the garden

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 5:31 pm

Watch out for slugs, and control them in the vegetable garden!

    * Slugs eat young seedlings and will completely destroy your plans.
    * Slugs like warm, moist conditions. So this spring has been perfect
      for them.
    * Assume you will have slugs and be prepared.



*Keep the vegetable garden tidy.

    * Slugs will make camp under anything:- weeds, old leaves &
      branches, stones & plant pots, soil clods.
    * So remove all potential hideouts.
    * Keep the soil raked, so that it is small crumbs and no clods.
Think biological control:

    * hedgehogs will fight the battle for you
    * guinea fowl & other birds help
    * dry, fine dusty material sticks to the slug & turns them away. Put
      a ring of soot around the seedlings
    * rosemary needles deter slugs
    * small cups of beer dropped into the ground act as traps

If all else fails invest in some slug pellets to control slugs in the garden.

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